The Darley team captured the Sydney two-year-old triple crown at Randwick on Saturday but not before a wayward Helmet almost threw away the Champagne Stakes.
The $5.50 favourite led the field up and was well clear when he reacted to the whip and ducked out sharply inside the final 200 metres.
The colt shifted out abruptly in front of the chasing pack, including runner-up Pane In The Glass, but had enough in hand and was getting away again to win by a length on the line with Fast And Sexy two lengths further back third.
Jim Byrne, rider of Pane In The Glass, fired in a protest but his objection was quickly dismissed with chief steward Ray Murrihy placing the objection in the “very optimistic category”.
It was the second year in a row trainer Peter Snowden and Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley team have had to survive a protest in the race after Skilled last year.
Snowden has trained the winner of all four Group One races for two-year-olds so far this season with Sepoy winning the Blue Diamond and Golden Slipper double.
Helmet’s Champagne Stakes (1600m) success added to his win in the Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) two weeks earlier, with Kerrin McEvoy in the saddle for all four big-race wins.
Snowden was delighted to have claimed the triple crown (Slipper, Sires, Champagne) but disappointed Helmet didn’t show the racing public his true talent on the day.
“It’s just disappointing and unfortunate we didn’t see exactly what he’s got,” Snowden said.
“No-one has seen what I have seen at home and today we were going to see a bit of it until that happened.
“What he’s shown me at home is that he’s an exceptional athlete, he just does everything so easily.
“He was three or four lengths in front there today and I thought he was going to win by six or seven but he shot himself in the foot by doing what he did.”
Byrne told stewards his momentum was halted on Pane In The Glass, who added a second placing in the Champagne to her third in the Sires’ Produce Stakes.
McEvoy said in hindsight he probably should have left Helmet alone and ridden him hands and heels to the line.
“Last time he didn’t do anything wrong though and I took him on trust a bit today,” he said.
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